The apex Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has faulted remarks made by former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, who allegedly justified the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the South West.
Kwakwanso had said over the weekend in Ibadan, Oyo State, that “the issue of conflict between the farmers and Fulani herdsmen is not common to the South west alone. It is not even common to Nigeria. It is all over the sub region”.
In a statement on Tuesday, Afenifere’s publicity secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said “In a replay of the sordid episode of 2000 when Arewa leaders rudely stormed the office of then Oyo state governor, Alhaji Lam Adesina on behalf of nomadic cattle rearers, former Kano state governor and serving Senator, Rabiu Kwakwanso came with verbal daggers to the same city at the weekend asking the age mates of his father to ‘shut up’”.
According to Afenifere, “It is another sad day for the clash of civilizations within the Lugard cage when a man who has occupied all the offices Kwakwanso has held, opens his mouth in a people’s domain and all he vomits make listeners to confuse him with a herdsman or Boko Haram chieftain”.
The statement reads: “Kwankwaso’s grouse with Yoruba leaders was our call for an end to the criminal activities of Fulani herdsmen in the region at the recent summit in Ibadan and that the Yoruba nation may reconsider its place in a union that could not protect us and would not allow us to protect ourselves if we did not see any sign to restructure Nigeria into a proper federation.
“The declaration is not anywhere near the statement of Gen Yakubu Gowon on August 3 1966: ‘there is no basis for Nigerian unity, which has been so badly rocked, not only once but several times’. Or the theme of the North’s revenge coup of July 29,1967 titled ARABA, an Hausa word meaning ‘let us divide it’”.
In addition, Afenifere said “In all his ramblings in Ibadan, Kwakwanso did not condemn the abduction of Chief Olu Falae, the killing of innocent farmers, raping of women and destruction of crops and farmlands in the course of the grazing activities of Fulani herdsmen. He only tacitly justified their activities by offering excuses for their criminal conducts”.
“The issue that we are talking about, education is very important. If all Fulani are given opportunity to go to school, I don’t think they will risk their lives and their animals going into the bush, where there are reptiles. I think the key thing is education.
“Kwakwanso wants Yoruba ‘understanding of the situation’ while his kinsmen continue to draw their blood, violating their women and destroying their farmlands until Mallam decides to give them education may be when we celebrate another centenary.
“The double speak of Kwakwanso is galling as he was a few months ago celebrating the hordes of Almajiris in the north as a positive development that provides a demography that could easily be herded for electoral process.
“Rabiu Kwakwanso in an interview he granted Vanguard Newspaper on April 26, 2015, lambasted the wife of former President of Nigeria for ‘insulting’ the north over the menace of Almajiri children which he considered a thing of ‘pride’, saying, ‘Look at what the wife of the President said about us – northerners. She was just castigating the North almost at every opportunity. You cannot insult us and think that you can get away with it. This democracy is a game of numbers, and that is why we went back and put almajiris together to get about two million votes.
‘The issue of almajiris have been opened to abuse in this country and turned into insults for us. Almajiri here is a positive word but the way they see it is that we are beggars, that we produce so many children that we cannot take care of, and that is what the First Lady was saying and we kept quiet because we had our own way of answering her and we did exactly that on the 28th of March’”, Odumakin quoted the former governor.
He added that Kwankwanso advocated that the Fulani should be given the opportunity to go to school as if the Yoruba were the ones who denied them such opportunity in almost 40 years that the north has held power since independence.
“With the uncouth, rude and insensitive remarks of Kwankwaso and his ilk in the North, which are like pouring salt on injury, it is coming clear to us that there may be a grand agenda with the activities of the Fulani herdsmen either as an advance party of Boko Haram into our territory or an expansionist project.
“The Yoruba leaders therefore stand by every word in the Ibadan declaration”, said Odumakin.